Serving your own notices under the Party Wall Act.
Posted on 21st February 2017 at 13:58
Can a building owner save money by serving their own notices?
The simple answer is yes, but bear in mind party wall surveyors fees for serving a notice is generally nominal. However, approximately 80% of the notices that I see that have been served by the building owner, are invalid in different ways.
Sometimes it is the basics, such as the incorrect names and addresses, no doubt due to bypassing a Land Registry search to find out who legally owns the property and their correct details and then failing to continue the search past the freeholders and searching for the details of the leaseholders too.
Quite often a building owner will scour on-line and find a Party Structure Notice (section 2) and use that because they want to build on the line of junction or something similarly unrelated.
I see section 6 notices that have been served with no section through the foundation and just some general planning drawings. Such drawings must be provided with a section 6 excavation notice.
Sometimes, notice has been served incorrectly on owners who are not adjoining owners under the Act. They may have incurred costs at this point by appointing a surveyor.
The first job of any party wall surveyor appointed under the Act is to check the notices. If these are invalid for any reason, the surveyor will probably end up drafting and serving correct notices.
Apart from delays and having to sort out a valid notice, an owner can justifiably claim the whole process up to that point is invalid and therefore the Act has not been invoked. This could add weeks on to a possibly already tight schedule.
Having said that about self-served notices, the alarming thing is, that I also regularly receive invalid notices that have been served by surveyors acting for the owners under agency. Small mistakes can be overlooked as long as the surveyor is made aware of them and the surveyor acting on behalf of the adjoining owner agrees to waive the defects in the notice. However, some notices are so poor that that there is no option but to reject them as invalid and ask that new notices are served. I am not saying that I am above making a the odd slip myself, I do not think any surveyor is, but slips and completely invalid notices are two different things.
So yes, you can serve your own notices but have in mind that far from saving money it might end up costing you more if these are not done correctly. Also have in mind that like any service you want to procure, you should do some basic checks to make sure your surveyor is competent.
Share this post: